The story of Jonah is propelled forward, we learn, because Calamity looms over Nineveh. We don’t know what kind of calamity it would look like, all we know is that there is pending consequences for the Assyrian empire.
And Jonah is told by God to walk headlong into this situation, “to go and proclaim to, rather than against, the city” about what is about to happen.
This is significant. It is also significant, I think, that the first and only time a biblical prophet is asked by God to go into a non-Jewish city and give it a message from the Lord.
“Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid his fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.”
(Jonah 1:1–3 NRSV)
Jonah is an old story, and it is even an over-told one. We so used to it being told from the perspective of Jonah as a vegetable, or other children’s stories that it seems too simplistic to be of use to us. Either that or we are caught in debates about whether it is a factual story or who are the wicked “Ninevites that need to be evangelized that” it can be difficult to find where Jonah fits for us today. But the story of Jonah – I like to think of it like a parable similar to a parable of Jesus’ – is something that is neither simple nor about evangelism, at least not in the way we have tended to think of it.
We are continuing our conversation through Parker Palmer’s book, “A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Towards the Undivided Life.” This week I am going to post discussion guides for chapters 4, 5, 6. The way we are doing these groups is sort of like mini-circles of trust. We haven’t been as disciplined about some of the very helpful guidelines on how an actual Circle of Trust is conducted, but we are starting with silence, reading a poem (or other 3rd thing) and then asking open-ended questions about that to get the sharing started. It’s been a very powerful experience to do this with our group.
I want to start with an image from the natural world, that symbolizes the marks of transformation is the metamorphosis of the butterfly.
How many of you have had the opportunity to watch a chrysalis transform before your very eyes into a butterfly? I find the metamorphosis of a butterfly captivating and beautiful. But, as with anything kind of change that takes place, it must happen carefully and in its own time. Each stage of metamorphosis is essential in the process of the butterfly becoming its “true self.”
Parker Palmer in his book we are reading for Fresh Bread “A Hidden Wholeness,” tells a story about how sensitive and fragile this process is. Continue reading →
In these reflections, I attempt to follow a more liberatory reading of the book of Revelation. Rather than reading it as a book about the end of the world, I suggest, following plenty of good scholarship, that this book really gives us a small glimpse into how the small, fledgling “minority” church, attempted to survive the oppressive imperial Roman regime. These reflections are based on a series of sermons I did on the subject in the spring of 2013 – those articles can be found here. Themes I cover in these reflections rooted in Revelation are nonviolence, justice for the poor and the beloved community. I hope you will enjoy it.
I am a monthly contributor to the blog Antioch Session. Antioch Session is a collective blog run by Zach Hoag and Scott Emergy and hosts a number of great writers all who are writing as a means to advance what they consider to be “creative Christianity” around three key areas: Liturgical, Missional and the cultural.
But I am learning that in order to genuinely care for others, I must work at how I carry and tend to my own pain. Doing the grief work around my step-dad’s death has opened up new ways of connecting with others in their pain. I have to remind myself that is okay to admit that I need care too. A “wounded healer,” as Nouwen calls it, must learn how to descend that staircase into those buried wounds, even though we are afraid. In doing so, our own pain can become a source of a healing for others and our sensitivity can, like a diving rod, guide us in toward where the true woundedness resides in others.